Help a Reader Travel: Peru

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Welcome to another post of helping a reader travel! As I’ve mentioned before, I have not been to every destination (unfortunately), but do get questions from friends and other blog readers on all sort of travel destination questions. Thus far, we’ve been able to help other readers travel to MauiThe Greek IslandsThe Pacific Coast HighwayArgentinaCosta Rica, Cape Code & The IslandsIceland, GenevaCanadian Rockies, Rome, and Israel.

So this weeks travel destination includes Peru I received the following email from reader David:

“Hi Mrs. Deals! My friend and I are planning to meet up for our annual trip together. We are looking to go to Peru for a week long trip. We were thinking this Fall, either end of September or early October, knowing that pushing it any later might cause us trouble with the rainy season. Or would you recommend we hold off till next Summer? We definitely want to go to Machu Picchu. How many days do we need and what are the other “must-do’s”? Any hotel recommendations as well? Thanks for the help.”

After posting this, I received an email from a reader who is also going to Peru and has a question regarding tickets to the ruins. Reader Larry asks:

“As you may be aware you need tickets to enter the ruins, but the website that allows you to make reservations and purchase the tickets no longer accepts VISA credit cards from foreigners (and does not allow Mastercard, Amex, etc.).  Do you know anyway to get these tickets before arriving in Peru?  I am hoping to do the combination of Machupicchu and Huaynapicchu, but as of last night only 190 tickets were still available, if this drags out longer I will miss that opportunity. Thank you for any assistance you can offer.”

This sounds like a great trip! If you’ve been to Peru, let’s help out reader David and Larry by commenting below. Also, if you have any upcoming travel where you need some help, feel free to email me at dealswelike@gmail.com to be a featured “Help a Reader Travel” Monday special. Thanks!

Comments

  1. I just got back from Peru in April. If you go to Lima, stay at the Westin, or the JW Marriott. I used C&P at the Westin for 4800 pts + $90, and it was a Phenomenal hotel. The JW Marriott is also a great option for around $200 per night.

    Restaurant recomendations: Cala, Astrid y Gaston, Pechuca.

  2. I was in Peru in May for week. We hiked to Machu Picchu for 5 days, which is something I would recommend, but if hiking is not your thing, then you can take the train to Machu Picchu from Cuzco. I would not recommend more than a night in Lima, it has nothing to do really. Cuzco is fun and really nice. I would spend 2-3 days there and then do the hike or take the train to Machu Picchu. You could hit up Lake Titicaca as well for a couple of days, we didn’t go there, but have heard really good things. But if you don’t want to hike, you should be fine going in September end/October. If you want to do the Inca trail, you will have to book in January when the registration for the hike opens for the year (only 300 permits per day, so its sells out fast)

  3. I cannot help with specific hotels or tours, but I can gie a general timeline.

    Depending on how much time you have and when your plane arrives, many people skip Lima- take a flight directly to Cuzco. Lima has its attractions, but definitely more unique stuff on your journey to Machu Picchu.

    Spend some time in Cuzco to adjust to the altitude, a day or two. Many people don’t do the Sacred Valley tours, but it was one of the highlights for me and worth it if you have the time.

    Machu Picchu – I wish I would have done an Inca Trail hike, but I realize that it takes time and isn’t for everyone. I recommend that you don’t make Machu Picchu a day trip. Get there midday and get familiar with the site, and then stay overnight. Get up early the next moring to see the sunrise- truly unforgetable. Machu Picchu is so big spending two days there is worth it.

  4. No matter how you do MP you always need to get to Cusco to start. Cusco is a small city about 1.5hour flight from Lima. There are 3 airlines that do that flight a few times per day. We used StarPeru Airlines and paid about $130 round-trip airfare per person.

    We ended up staying in Lima for 2 nights before going to Cusco and would highly recommend spending time in Lima either before or after Machupicchu. We stayed at the Sheraton Hotel. All the hotels in Lima are either in an area called Miraflores or Center City. The Sheraton was in center city and we loved the location. It was a 10min walk to all the old, historical sites and plazas. We spent two days sight-seeing and that was sufficient. Miraflores is by the water and more touristy so we went out at night there but prefered the old city area.

    Machupicchu can be done as either a multiple dat hike or a day trip. If you do the 4day hike by law you are required to do it with an official guide. If you google MP hike tours, you will probably find plenty of agencies that organize group tours. Book as soon as you can as there are limits on how many people can trek. I hear it’s an amazing experience but it is intense with sleeping in tents and hiking all day. If you want to do just the day trip like we did, you will leave very early in the morning from Cusco on a train and return at night.
    Cusco itself is really cute. It is recommended that you stay in Cusco a couple of nights before you go to MP to acclimate. Altitude sickness is no joke! We stayed at the Casa Andina Catedral Hotel and it was in a perfect location right on the main square and they even had a free shuttle from the airport. It was a pretty simple hotel but we barely spent anytime in it. I think it was only about $100/night.

  5. You should be fine in September-October. We once went at the end of December, and even that wasn’t bad, except for some flights being cancelled and not being able to see condors in the Colca Canyon (see below for that).

    Macchu Picchu does not REQUIRE an overnight stay, but I recommend one night in Aguas Calientes (more than one is excessive), just so you can get up early and see the sunrise over the ruins if you are so inclined. The ruins are not that large, so a whole day is more than enough. Make sure to book one of the hikes (like Wayna, or Huayna, Picchu) well in advance, if you want to do them.

    To get to Macchu Picchu, you fly into Cuzco (you can use Avios or AA miles for LAN flights) and stay in the Sacred Valley somewhere, then take a train up to Aguas Calientes. People like Tambo del Inka, a luxury hotel (it’s a Starwood property so you can use C&P) with its own train station in Urubamba. The hotel has its own travel agency, which is ridiculously overpriced but if you want to use its train station, you pretty much have to go through the hotel for train tickets, as they appear to “hold” them and not make the available to tourists, except well in advance. In my opinion, the hotel is really out of place in the very poor town of Urubamba, and is priced ridiculously but the setting is beautiful and if you speak a little Spanish, you can go into Urubamba for dinner (basically, just cross the street from the hotel compound), as well as take combis (mini-buses) to the Ollantaytambo ruins. I recommend 2 nights at Tambo del Inka or another Sacred Valley property to acclimate, if your schedule allows that much.

    With a week-long stay, you probably won’t have enough time to hike the Inka trail, because you have to acclimate in Cuzco for a few days (the trail ascends to above 12,000 ft).

    Other awesome sites in Peru are Lake Titicaca, Arequipa and Colca Canyon (if you go earlier in the season as the condors don’t fly during the rainy season), Huacachica desert oasis near Ica (you can sand board down huge dunes – it’s really fun), and the Nazca lines. With a week-long stay, you will be able to do one of these sites.

    You’ll have an awesome time in Peru! Feel free to reach out if you need more info 🙂

  6. I’m also planning a trip for MP, so thank you so VERY much to all the commenters and deals for posting this! There is already great imput, please keep it coming!

  7. We recently returned from a trip to Peru and Chile, and have been writing about it on our blogs. MileValue also has written a few posts on Peru. (Sorry, I don’t mean to steer your readers away, but don’t have the time to retype all the details here.)

    As for the MP entrance tickets. One of my readers commented that he was able to use a Chase VISA debit card to get around that issue online. If that does not work, I’d also suggest that you contact the hotel you will be staying at or a local travel agent to book your tickets.

  8. Don’t discount Lima, as one commenter said, it has some great things to do and is getting to be a hip place. I like San Isidro and Miraflores, but there is plenty to see and do for one or two days. I just got back from there last month: See my blog:pointsandtravel.com

    Then take a flight to Cusco and stay at least 2, maybe 3 days if you can. First: to get aclimated to the altitude and second: because it is an amazing place to be! You will love it. Then (if you are not a hiker, like me) take the train to Agua Calientes. A few years back, I got the tickets on the internet, but if you are having trouble, I would suggest calling Peggy at Hotel Torre Dorado. This hotel is listed at the #1 in Cusco and has been for years. They can get you tickets on the train. DO THIS NOW, as you don’t want to miss out on tickets on the train to MP. Hotel Torre Dorado is also a great place to stay, not high end like the SPG property Tambo del Inka, but it won’t have the price tag either! Tell them Cindy for PHX sent you! Once you arrive in Agua Calientes by train, stay the night ONE night, so you can see MP in the sunrise the next day and then take the train back to Cusco. email me with questions!

  9. @dealswelike, thanks so much for doing these posts!! I’m also planning a trip to Peru in December (it will be the last leg of my RGN saga) and all of these comments are so amazingly helpful. 🙂

    I’ve heard great things about the Hotel Torre Dorado — they have a good package going on if you stay more than 2 nights, I think. GREAT rating on TripAdvisor. Also, in Lima, if you have Club Carlson points from the Big Giveaway, you can spend 38,000 at the Radisson Miraflores. TripAdvisor reviews say it’s pretty nice.

    I’m planning on using Avios to get from Lima to Cuzco on LAN. Availability is really good (there are quite a few flights every day!). I forget exactly how much the taxes & fees are, but it’s a great use for a small number of Avios.

    I’ve been looking at a few MP tours… There was one that sounded great, but requires you to be in Cuzco for 2 days before the hike (and to pay the rest of your deposit in cash, in person). 🙁 Doesn’t work out if you have a short itinerary. SunGate Tours got back to my question within 1 business day and even sent me a personalized itinerary estimate, which was really nice.

    Thanks everyone for the tips! You guys are awesome 🙂

  10. Here are some hotels in Cusco. All have private bath. The least expensive is Amaru 1 (but not Amaru II – it’s not as nice). Near the city center is Andenes al Cielo. Ask for rooms in the back where you won’t hear the city street noise. Also try Encantada Spa & Boutique in San Blas. It’s about 10 min walk to city center, but has best value for the cost. It does not have full restaurant but the rooms are very comfortable & the facilities are well maintained.

  11. There is some good advice above. Readers should also know that $100 gets you a GREAT hotel anywhere in Peru, and that for $30 to $40 you can easily find a decent place everywhere (except for Aguas Calientes, very overpriced, try La Payacha Hostal, they are right on the raging river, tell them KB sent you).
    Cusco is nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, I recommend spending the end of your trip there. Spend the same amount of days you want to but do it at the end – go down to the Sacred Valley or better yet Ollantaytambo where the altitude is much lower.

    Tickets to Machu Picchu have become a big hassle. First thing is, if you don’t want to climb Huayna Picchu you should be okay getting them once you arrive. If you do want to climb HP….. there are not many good options. Book a tour that includes MP is one option (there are treks besides the Inca Trail that qualify or else a taxi or bike tour through St. Theresa way.) Other option is to Google a travel agency in Cusco for this service.

    Best month of the whole year is May ! Everything is still green from the rainy season but the weather is predominantly sunny and blue skies, but not the insane crowds of June through August.

    Lastly, the hot tip on Machu Picchu. Everyone wants to be alone for a bit there and not feel like a tourist. So everyone goes really early for the sunrise (which you rarely see due to mist and high mountains blocking the sun). Machu PIcchu is by far the most crowded from 6am onwards. They close at either 5 or 6pm but no one ever stays that late. We have been alone there many times. Sleep in, bring a book, and stay till they kick you out – you will never forget nor regret it ! feel free to email kbperu at homail if you have any other questions have a great trip

  12. Hi there. My wife, Jean, and I spent close to a month in Peru driving, hiking, flying, canoeing, and riding the rails across the country. We have traveled to several parts of the world, creating wonderful memories, but Peru, however, tops our list.

    The trip to Peru was made memorable because it included such a variety of unique and separate experiences like flying over the Nazca Lines, hiking in the Amazon Jungle, driving into the Andes Mountains to see wild Vicuna, and climbing Huayna Picchu at Machu Picchu. Of course, a vast number of other sights and scenes crossed our paths while in that wonderful country, too. Come check out some of our pictures and stories at:
    http://frametoframe.ca/photo-essay-machu-picchu-lost-city-of-incas

  13. FYI, Cusco is higher than MP, so the recommendation is to head to the Sacred Valley (an area with multiple towns), then spend time in Cusco (which is a higher altitude).

    We spent a day in Lima with a guide found on a Boarding Area blog.

    The flight to Cusco from Lima on LAN is 55 minutes, and they serve a snack box filled with cookies/crackers/candy. Landing in Cusco (also Cuzco) is like landing a jet in your neighborhood. It’s surrounded on 3 sides by ‘houses’.

    I thought I planned our trip properly; but if given a chance to re-do it, I’d spend a week in the Cusco/MP/Sacred Valley area. We had 3 full days, and we didn’t even touch the surface of the area.

    FYI, taxis are dirt cheap, unless you call USD $2.40 expensive for a 6 minute ride. The meter starts at $3.50 in New York City.

    At MP, there’s a very expensive hotel. We did have a very nice buffet lunch there.
    When you get off the train, it’s still a 25 minute bus ride to the entrance.

    ALERT… if you have issues with steps, or the occasional No Railing, you’ll have to tough it out.

    Buy Deet, due to the bug issues. They don’t look like they’re biting, but they are.

    The JW Marriott in Cusco is the best use of 30,000 Marriott points.

    In Cusco, don’t try going out for an early coffee/muffin/bagel at 8:00. You’re not going to find it (except for the place next door to the LAN ticket office). Oh, and by the way, they make the coffee fresh for you, so expect to wait 10 minutes (a lifetime here in NY).

  14. Hi there, I have traveled to Cusco, and then on up to Machu Picchu. Before arriving in Cusco however, I and my wife, Jean, spent a week on the Pacific coast, and then flew from Arequipa to Lake Titicaca. After a couple of days at Lake Titicaca, we took the train from there up to Cusco. This round about route helped us slowly ajust to the altitude changes on the route. I would recommend that you speak with your doctor and make “SURE” you take a high altitude medication with you, something like, Diamox, or whatever your doctor recommends. And remember you must take it before arriving in Cusco, for it to work. Far to many people fly into Lima(sea level)from places like North America, and then head straight up to Cusco(high altitude)on the same day, and pay the price of having serious high altitude sickness. And its the last place on this earth you want to be sick. If your interested checkout my posting at: http://frametoframe.ca/photo-essay-machu-picchu-lost-city-of-incas/

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